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Worth Viewing: "Serving Life"

 Serving Life

"We're supposed to correct deviant behavior, that's what corrections is. I can teach you skills and trades and I'd just make you a smarter criminal, unless we get something in your heart -- unless we become moral. The criminal person is a selfish person who gets whatever he wants by taking it. The way to be the opposite of that taker is to be a giver; the ultimate gift is to be the hospice caregiver. Hospice is a test. Have you changed or have you not? This is your way to prove it."  ~ Burl Cain, Warden, Louisiana State Prison at Angola


Last night I watched a documentary called “Serving Life” via Netflix. It is a documentary by the Oprah Winfrey Network and narrated by Forrest Whitaker. Now I should have been focused on projects on my to do list but I surfed across this film. I wanted to turn it off but I couldn’t. I was mesmerized by the beauty, dignity and humanity in a place that I’d only heard horror stories about --- Angola Prison.

The film is about a program started by Warden Burl Cain that allows inmates to volunteer to take care of fellow inmates in hospice at the facility. It may sound simple enough but it is a commitment. Feeding, bathing, grooming and changing diapers of another adult male is not something everyone can do. Regardless of the setting, being a caregiver at that level requires a person to be totally unselfish. For the inmates accepted into the program at Angola, it is an opportunity for redemption. 

Through the film we learn of the situations, lifestyles and choices that lead these men to their existence. It’s sad, no, overwhelmingly depressing. They don’t blame anyone but themselves for ending up incarcerated. Since the average sentence is 93 years, chances are very high that most of the inmates will die in Angola. 

The film shows men taking their last breath. It’s It also shows the dignity in their burial. Some people may think they are not entitled to such dignity because they are criminals. 

I encourage everyone to see this film. It might even be more effective than the “Scared Straight” reality show. 






Red Tails: An Epic Tale of Patriotism and Courage


Red Tails Poster

I went to see Red Tails yesterday with my Dad. He asked about movie times and where it was playing so I know that was my cue to be a good daughter and take him. After being married 58 years, Dad still misses my Mom who transitioned almost two years ago.  Whenever he wants to do something or go somewhere I try to oblige him. 

I don’t like going out to the movies. First of all, there are no theaters in my neighborhood so anywhere I go requires at least a 10 or 15 minute drive. Then there’s the parking, expensive admission and way overpriced food at the concession stand.  Not to mention the fact that I usually have lots to do and going to the movies takes a real big chunk out of my day.

Anyhoo, we saw the movie at the Aventura AMC24. We arrived just in time for the previews to start. My Dad had not been to a movie theater in at least 25 years. He said the previews were too long. The movie showtime was scheduled for 4:15 p.m. and that’s the time he expected it to start. The movie started at 4:30.

The opening scenes of the movie explicitly indicate the movie is ‘inspired’ by true events. If you expect a documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen, this is not the movie for you. Does it touch upon the racism the men of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps endured? Yes, it does. It also highlights the assumptions of intellectual inferiority of the black pilots and their relegation assignments that did not have any impact on the War. 

This movie is also entertaining if you enjoy the rock ‘em sock’em shoot’em up special effects producer George Lucas is known for in his Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. There are portions of the movie that are predictable and others that are not. The character development of the men was good but could have been a little more in-depth. The relationship between Joe and Sofia was a tad clumsy but a contrast to the fighting and racism. 

I highly recommend this movie. Kudos to George Lucas and to director Anthony Hemingway for a movie that will be remembered for a long time. My deep appreciation to the Tuskegee Airmen for the obstacles they overcame and the lives they saved. There are a few Tuskegee Airmen still alive today. If you know them or they live in your community, please say thank you.

In spite of the cost of the afternoon — admission ($29.00), concession ($24.78) and valet parking ($11), I would have spent twice that to see my Dad smile and have him talk about the Tuskegee Airmen and his military experience for the rest of the evening. 

Go see ‘Red Tails’ and make it a family outing.




Related Links:

Tuskegee Airmen

Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.



An American Crime: The True Story of the Murder of Sylvia Likens [VIDEO]


I surfed across a creepy movie on the Sleuth Channel called An American Crime. I tried not to focus on it because I was in "Sunday afternoon my weekend is almost over" multi-tasking mode but I found myself drawn to it even more after learning it was based on a true story.

The movie, based on the abuse and murder of Sylvia Likens in Indianapolis in 1965, premiered on Showtime in May 2008 after production issues by First Look Productions. The stars of the movie include Catherine Keener as Gertrude Baniszewski and Ellen Page as Sylvia Likens.  Keener received and Emmy nomination for her performance.

An American Crime is haunting and intriguing. The real-life facts of the abuse, torture and murder of Sylvia Marie Likens are more horrifying than the movie. To know that Sylvia was not only tortured by the adult in whose care she and her sister Jenny were placed, but also at the hands of children was particularly nauseating.



Related Links:

StarFiles: The 1965 murder of Sylvia Likens

The Torturing Death of Sylvia Marie Likens

Sylvia Likens Memorial Website

Sundance Review: An American Crime


HBO’s ‘Recount’ Must Be a Great Movie Because It Pisses off the Republicans and the Democrats

I can hardly wait for HBO's broadcast of the movie 'Recount'. It's the story of the infamous 2000 U.S. presidential election that was literally stolen from the Dumbocrats by the Rethuglicans in Florida.

The movie trailers have been particularly interesting with eerily similar physical likeness of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris by Laura Dern. Critics claim that Dern's portrayal of Harris is much like a skit from Saturday Night Live. If anyone thinks that will stop me from watching the movie ---how wrong they are. Hah!

I'm also a huge Kevin Spacey fan and look forward to watching him the role of Ron Klain, Al Gore's Chief of Staff. I'm also a Florida voter who still doesn't really know if her vote actually counted or not. You can read more about the movie at the HBO website.

I can tell you that I'll watch the movie Sunday night and likely watch it several times when it's re-broadcast. Hanging chads…pregnant chads…Bush-whacked uncounted ballots in Florida…Holler back and let us know what you think of the movie.

And Hillary Clinton supporters wanted a re-vote of this year's Florida primary by mail? I don't think so.

This Christmas: You Can’t Exchange Family, You Just Have to Love Them!

Two months ago I would have told you that Chris Brown was one of the most annoying entertainers around. That's seems a tad cruel but I'm just keeping it real. He was everywhere. The comments equating him to Michael Jackson really did it for me. Anyhoo, I think he was overexposed and rewarded way too early for a neophyte musical career. Well, it seems that young Mr. Brown just may have proven himself in his role in This Christmas. Obviously, his singing talent and appeal to young women are capitalized on to sell this movie and the soundtrack. It works.

The cast seems to click so much so that the interaction seems so real and I could definitely identify with my own family members and many of the characters. Now, don't get it twisted, there's nothing new in this movie. The storyline is predictable but ya know what? It still works. The jokes, one-liners and come backs remind me of any of several family gatherings.

If I could have changed anything, I probably would have one less Soul Train line. While black folks like to have a good time, I just don't recall that much extraneous dancing going on in my household. That being said, I love this movie and I could watch it over and over again.

Regina King is awesome, as usual, Sharon Leal, Loretta Devine are fabulous and video model turned actress Lauren London holds her own. Two of my favorite actors, Delroy Lindo and Idris Elba bring sexy back for me every time.

I also like the way black filmmakers are infusing the value of education and attending a historically-black college or university.

If you want to see a feel good movie with a few twists and turns, you'll enjoy This Christmas. Remember, you can't exchange family.

Why Did I Get Married is Good for the Soul

It's the weekend, baby! Have some fun and go see Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married I know I saw it twice last weekend and you know what, I think I'll see it again. I don't know if it's the storyline or all the hotness in the movie or what? Let me just be honest, OK?

Anyhoo, on a serious tip, Why Did I Get Married is a great opportunity to laugh, cry and for a reality check. That's what Tyler Perry movies tend to do. Perry uses the movie to preach…teach…send a message. That's what his movies are all about; if you don't like that formula, don't see the movie. The truth be told, most of us need those messages big time. I saw myself and my friends, at different points in our lives, in all of the characters. No, I'm not saying which characters or friends.

Some of the problems in the relationships between the couples seem too unreal but then I guess some folks may go through some craziness in their married lives. No doubt, Jill Scott and Tasha Smith steal the movie. Scott does a commendable job of portraying the down-trodden, Sheila. Tasha Smith played the role of Angela, the angry black woman. I dug the character in the honest moments but I am getting so sick and tired of that angry black woman character. It's hardly conceivable that a woman with such attitude could be the owner of a successful hair salon but maybe I'm the only one that feels that way.

Over all the acting was decent. The characters could have used more development to justify some of the emotional extremes and explain their actions.

Now, let me get a tad shallow…I was so feeling the wardrobe of the women, especially Janet's. Those shoes and handbags had me practically drooling --- yes, I have my weaknesses and I'm dealing with them. I even loved the furs, faux or not. Michael Jai White in his boxers on the television screen is one thing but to see him on the big screen was breathtaking. I don't care what role he plays, he will always be Spawn to me. I did not expect Lamman Rucker to be so gorgeous. Warning to women, it's just a movie. Let's not make ourselves crazy expecting Sheriff Troy to come to our rescue.

And another thing, if you can't find a babysitter, leave your children at home. The characters on the movie screen can't hear you, so why talk to them? I just don't get it. Laughing out loud is one thing, but a conversation is something else.

Let me just touch a couple of points before I end this post. The cast of this movie is mostly black but I encourage white people to see it also. The problems the couples face are universal and you can learn from the movie also. Brothers, go see the movie with your wives, girlfriends, etc. You'll enjoy the laughs and hopefully your relationships will be strengthened.

Wake-Up Call: A Crude Awakening

It's been more than a couple of weeks since I've heard anything from Matt over at A Bowl of Stupid. I checked out his space and sure enough he hasn't posted since the end of July. I'm not gonna sweat about it just yet because since he left the legal field and started this incredible journey to some rather amazing countries, I've learned a lot and been treated to his razor-sharp wit. I do hope he's just out-of-pocket right now.

Anyhoo, while checking his most current posts, I got a wake-up call from his particularly poignant post on the oil crisis and the documentary, A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash. I've posted a trailer of the movie; it's different from the one on Matt's page but please go to A Bowl of Stupid and read Matt's post. Consider yourself warned.

Those Girls Gone Wild videos should be moved to the adult TV channels

The recent uproar over painful comments made by Don Imus about the Rutgers ladies basketball team forced music industry moguls to re-evaluate the negative language and images in rap music. I am praying that a similar incident will force change regarding the filming and distribution of those damn Girls Gone Wild videos.

I really don’t understand why the general population is not up in arms about these videos. The impact of the Girls Gone Wild videos is just as negative as rap music, if not more so.

There is a time and place for most things. Basic cable channels, no matter the time of the broadcast day, are not the place to hawk Girls Gone Wild. Move them to the adult channels where they belong.

The behavior of the young women in the advertisement is beyond disgusting. The girls are too young to understand the damage participating in these videos can have on their future, unless they want to be porn stars. I also don’t get why those trashy commercials don’t violate FCC laws.

Don Imus is off the air but perhaps another media personality will step forward and say something about Girls Gone Wild.

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